Breaking Glass

Forgetting China

I am unusual among American conservatives in feeling quite positive about the rise of a strong and prosperous China.  Not long since, I was exploring Beijing’s thronged Wangfujing Street, which is consumer heaven, and it was sobering to realize that the ancestors of virtually all those prosperous customers would have been permanently hungry peasants who spent every day being worked to exhaustion.  Over the past 30 years, literally hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been allowed to pull themselves out of penury, to benefit themselves and their families by hard work and creative enterprise.  Why shouldn’t their children run riot in buying electronics?  Poor people becoming prosperous through honest means is an unqualified good.  And it’s only natural that a thriving commercial country feels the need for armed forces to defend its global interests.  If the Chinese start building space colonies, good luck to them.

And yet . . . if China today is indeed such a towering success story in material terms, she also represents the world’s most alarming example of historical amnesia, in that so few people around the world have the slightest knowledge of the mass murder perpetrated by the immediate predecessors of the current regime.  To use an analogy that might initially seem far-fetched, imagine an alternate world in which Nazi Germany survived...

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